Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Old friends

I spent 3 intense years with these two. One’s now a headteacher the other teaches flying whilst not smoking pipes.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Reflections from the COP23

I have just come back from Bonn for the 23rd Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP23).

My purpose here was following a project to respond to the Global Goals.

However what has made my time here is not just the purpose but meeting a wonderful family who have hosted me. I am beyond amazed at a family who moments before I arrived were burgled yet still welcomed me and a friend in. Their son gave up his bedroom for me. They made me amazing breakfast and offered support, comfort and love. I have been beyond welcomed.

As I left felt so sad to leave this family behind.

However there was a glimmer of hope. As we were talking the young teenage girl said she will be in the UK when doing her student exchange and it turns out she will be at the local girls school TWGGS.

Among all my travels anywhere... by far the most amazing travels I have had is in people’s houses and with people who have become my global family.

(The last picture was with some more of my global family and particularly my brother Ahmad, who I met last year in the Calais Jungle and has now resettled in Brussels and he and his girlfriend housed me en route to the Climate Summit)

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Friday, 3 November 2017

Fell off my bike

It’s Friday. The bike was out. Ready for the ride into work. Planing to listen to a podcast. It was a lovely autumn day. Crisp. Cool and stunning colours (just).

En route to work. Was overtaken by 5 cyclists. The usual indicator of my poor cycling prowess.

Then whilst eventually getting to the downhill bit (phew)and taking one of my fav corner. I indicated as usual. Then steered single handed. It didn’t feel the best of turns and with one hand felt like I’d over done it.

I had.

The bike started to freeze and the momentum was still carrying me forward. I skidded and then flew over the top. It was at an angle so the first thing to hit the ground was my elbow. It hit hard and pushed up, sharply, under my rib cage up. It was fast and hard. Due to the angle of fall a roll quickly followed. Ouch.

Lungs crushed. The hard poke took the immediate air out. The roll cushioned the blow. I get up. Just. Walk to the side and bring my bike over and collapse. Hard to breathe. Hard to breathe.

Then I hear the voices. “Are you ok?” Did you hit your head?”

People gather and try to help me relax. One lady and her daughter were practicing their driving stayed with me. Another, a man with his dog. I think it was a lovely grey colour.

They walk me to the bench which I didn’t want to sit on because of the dew. A plastic bag makes it easier though.

The lady calls Angie and then continues to talk to me. She’s a teacher and has an extended holiday this week and was helping her daughter with her DofE.

She stayed with me. She comforts me. She waits.

Angie eventually comes to take me away.

I look up at the lady and say thank you. She says I hope you get better. Please get it checked out.

What lovely neighbours we have around here. Grateful for people who stop and check in on us. Especially when we fall. They help us pick ourselves up. They help us realise that we can’t do this alone all the time. They remind us to do likewise to others.

We need more people like these. We, too, need to be these type people.

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Location:Newlands Road,Tunbridge Wells,United Kingdom

Friday, 27 October 2017

Autumn at Bedgebury

There’s a couple of weeks during October where the colours are remarkable.

Bedgebury is a great place to see it in its glory.

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Location:Wilman Road,Tunbridge Wells,United Kingdom

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

One Woman's secret to happiness that made me smile :)

I like watching youtube clips.

Ever since I had an creative intern who loved them... to the point he would stop everyone either through trying not to create a scene by laughing so hard that you couldn't help interrupt him to say "Whassup?" or he is right there, in your face, with his laptop saying "...you have got to watch this". It wasn't a choice.

I might add he was a visual creative and such clips masterfully formed his style... and he did some great video work for us.

This one I saw recently and I think the guy in the vid (Julian) sums it up well to say you have taught us more in the past 2 minutes than we have ever done. It's on happiness. A term that I am hearing a lot right now. It seems elusive and yet a goal for so many...

The happiest person I think that I ever knew was my grandmother. Not that I knew her much as she was in India when I was growing up... but whenever I saw her she was always smiling. One of those smiles that really made you feel special.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Holiday snaps

Just under a week to go and here are a few holiday snaps.


Longbarn holiday camp

When Elliot & Ethan came to stay

Fire pit with Juliette

En route

Holiday with Stewarts


Angie and Jo





Josh n Finn on the streets of Cognac





Angie's birthday morning

Birthday walk

When Caleb's Godparent visit

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Eid Mubarak: 5 things I have learned from 4 weeks of fasting

I have just completed 4 weeks of fasting for Ramadan.

I am not a muslim. Neither am I a Christian. I am not religious. I am, however, a follower of Jesus.

I did this not for religious or pious or even health related reasons. I did it for empathy and love for muslim friends who I have made over the last few years. Friends who like my family are displaced. Some survived the 'route of death', others seized the opportunity whilst it was offered. All are now lost in this new 'home' separated from their loved ones. They are broken. They are strong. They are full of hope. They are sad. I am honoured to be called their brother. Somebody once reached out to our family in a similar way.

This Ramadan I decided to join in and fast not quite like my sisters and brother waking up at 2am to eat or give up all fluids. I only went until our evening family meal (call it our "iftar") and being one of the hottest months I thought I would keep myself useful to my family by not dehydrating and kept up fluid intake.

I only lapsed for 36 hours. I deliberated for awhile whether I should or not break. But in the end I realised I am not religious about this. So when a special work related friend insisted on taking me (and some of my colleagues) out for lunch I happily(!) accepted and then hours later when my son turned 8 and not wanting to give up the tradition of having breakfast together. I also enjoyed our time and meal together.

A few things that happened along the way really caught me:

1. Fasting is inwardly creating a "Sacred Personal Space"
Call it what you like. There seems to be a special place that you are allowed "to step into" during a fast. It's not instant either. It takes days. But its a place that only you are in around all the usual-ness of day-to-day. You are in your special place as an observer, as a note taker on the rituals of the everyday. It is quite a delight to be there. You feel special and grateful that you get to sit and watch the world go by. 

2. Fasting is difficult in the last few hours
Man how I watched that clock and yearned for seconds to turn into minutes and minutes hours. As with most time flying things it was easier the busier you were. I had to keep myself on the go as much as I could.

3. Fasting is easier when drinking
Hats off to my Muslim friends. I'm not sure not drinking in weather conditions over the past month makes sense. But I realised that downing a glass of water helped stave off the hunger. On particularly tougher days I found soft sugary drinks also helpful to keep me not only seemingly full but also with a little 'zip' to keep going.

4. Fasting is weird. Especially when trying to explain to other people
"Oh!... well... term... good for you!". You try not to let others in on it but it's too difficult. I never realised how rigid we are to the pattern of breakfast, lunch and supper. In some parts of the world eating once is all they have. We have three meals and each has a social significance. Breakfast is the easiest to avoid. Most people have it on the move. Or in their own time. My kids often go down and pour themselves some cereal and happily eat by themselves. you wouldn't miss anyone at breakfast. 

Then there's lunch and slowly this becomes more social. Or unless you are sitting at your desk eating. But I get invited to eat with others. Our team sometimes breaks and sits together. Other say you fancy grabbing a bite somewhere. It's great. I love it. However, it's weird when you say "I'd love to join you but do you mind if I don't eat". You might as well have said: "up yours" as the response is usually a polite interchange of "oh! That's fine... are you sure... do you mind if I eat..." 

Then lastly if you miss dinner... in our house it's the one meal that we try to sit around together. Frankly, I'm not prepared to give that up for a whole month... but it's the same for muslims who celebrate iftar together. I like this. I like this a lot. (I particularly liked seeing iftar in war torn Syria- this encouraged me immensely.

5. Fasting is time of gratitude 
I'm grateful for the past month of fasting. It was an achievement. It was social. It was a deeply reflective time. It allowed me a sense of solidarity with friends of a different faith. Most of all I enjoyed the time I had exploring my own faith and worship. It was... emotional.

Friday, 28 April 2017

JB postscript

We went to JBs thanksgiving today.

There was a lovely sketch from a photo of him with his mother's hand and his together.

One day they'll hold hands again.

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017


I never met my auntie. She died during child birth.

My papa had made special things for her. Cuddly toys. He was looking forward to meeting his younger sister. The umbilical cord wrapped itself around my Foi (the Gujarati word for Dad's sister) and strangled her as she made the final scramble for life on the outside. My papa wept.

Our friends have just had their baby JB. The other night.

He died. Nearly made it out. Nearly.

It happened during birth. His chances to actually get out were super slim. JB had Edwards syndrome. The worst kind. As a family we were praying for our friends and JB over the whole day as he was being induced. We prayed a huge gratitude for knowing, however small the time, JB.

This morning we heard the news. It was just tears and sadness.

Another friend of mine lost one of her twins early on too. I asked her what do you say to people who are going through such a dark place. She said remember. Remember that the child had a name and don't be afraid of saying it.

Thanks JB for the short time that we were able to get to know you. I look forward to one day seeing you. Give my Foi a hug when you see her.

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Location:Tunbridge Wells,United Kingdom


Teignmouth. My, oh my what a treasure of a place.

We were able to get away for a few days last week. Our holidays are usually left to the eleventh hour (mainly down to not having the resources to plan). And this one landed in our laps days before we left.

Had a friend's wedding party Saturday night and then straight in the car to arrive in the early hours of Sunday but for that glorious Sunday morning wake up in Teignmouth. It didn't fail to disappoint.

A week of mainly fishing & crabbing. Walking. Talking to locals. Talking to the man in the Fishing shop about crabbing techniques. And catching up with a few friends.


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